Thoughts on the District J Race

Nov 10, 2011   //   by Jim Bigham   //   Governance, SW Houston Reporter, The View from Sharpstown  //  No Comments

Congratulations to CM-Elect Mike Laster who will represent the new District J on City Council. We were lucky to have a group of thoughtful, bright, and genuinely nice candidates to compete for a chance to take our concerns to City Hall. I had the pleasure to meet all three, enjoying lengthy conversations with Criselda Romero and Rodrigo Canedo. My spouse and I also had the chance to chat with Mike at several candidate functions and he’ll be a strong voice on Council.  They all have a burning desire to help improve our neighborhoods in SW Houston.

In my view, there were no major policy disagreements on the campaign trail, yet in conversations with Criselda and Rodrigo there was a palatable dissatisfaction with the slow pace of renewal. Mike spoke about the same issue, delay and more delay,  during the Sharpstown Civic Association Meeting in September when he pointed out that the Mgmt District sponsored, Bellaire Mobility project was stalled at the City. He mentioned, perhaps an early 2012 start date. That will be half a dozen years after the first intersection, Bellaire-Fondren, was redeveloped in 2006. As everyone knows in the community, the pace is TOO SLOW. Residents, Voters, and Business owners are frustrated!

When barely 4,000 votes are cast District wide, compared with over 21,000 in our next door neighbor District C, the Mayor and At-Large CMs just do not have to pay attention to our needs. They can easily win without a single vote from Sharpstown, Gulfton, or  Braeburn Valley. This is where we must make a change. I won’t revisit the discussion about the lack of registered voters, Greg Wythe has that issue down cold. We have a slightly better than average voter registration rate, of those eligible to vote, as other Districts (and city wide). While there is little opportunity with registration, perhaps there is a big chance to simply get more registered voters to the polls. I’m a neophyte without the requisite years of political consulting experience, but I gotta believe the issues exist to get to turnout. We’ll see soon enough.

In the meantime, hats off to Mike, Criselda, and Rodrigo. You made us proud.

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